Synopses & Reviews
For anyone who has ever loved a Jane Austen novel, a warm and witty look at the passionate, thriving world of Austen fandom
They walk among us in their bonnets and Empire-waist gowns, clutching their souvenir tote bags and battered paperbacks: the Janeites, Jane Austens legion of devoted fans. Who are these obsessed admirers, whose passion has transformed Austen from classic novelist to pop-culture phenomenon? Deborah Yaffe, journalist and Janeite, sets out to answer this question, exploring the remarkable endurance of Austens stories, the unusual zeal that their author inspires, and the striking cross-section of lives she has touched.
Along the way, Yaffe meets a Florida lawyer with a byzantine theory about hidden subtexts in the novels, a writer of Austen fan fiction who found her own Mr. Darcy while reimagining Pride and Prejudice, and a lit professor whose roller-derby nom de skate is Stone Cold Jane Austen. Yaffe goes where Janeites gather, joining a pilgrimage to historic sites in Britain, chatting online with fellow fans, and attending the annual ball of the Jane Austen Society of North America—in period costume. Part chronicle of a vibrant literary community, part memoir of a lifelong love, Among the Janeites is a funny, touching meditation on the nature of fandom.
“An informed and elegant chronicle of the rise of ‘Divine Jane.” —NPRs Fresh Air
“Harman presents the story of Austens self-fashioning and later popularity in a convincing, enjoyable way. She describes Austens reputation from her own lifetime to the current era of Jane Austen, Inc., synthesizing a good deal of scholarship into a series of tidy chapters offering an accessible guide to the evolution of her subjects renown.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Harmans Austen is neither sweet nor retiring, but a fire poker—a metaphor evoked by her bearing and manner, according to a contemporary visiting her household. Think tall, strong, and ‘formidable, not small and sweet.” —Elizabeth Toohey, The Christian Science Monitor“There is much to divert and please in Claire Harmans well-blended biography and cultural commentary. . . . Harman, an award-winning biographer, turns her sharp scholarly eye, acutely sensible prose and considerable wit on the life of the ‘divine Jane in this gem of a book, tracing Austens early years and literary pursuits through to the present-day cult of Austenmania.... This biography-history fills in many blanks, brimming with entertaining anecdotes and quotes, robust scholarship and ironic humor.” —Alison Hood, BookPage “Chock full of quotes, primary and secondary resources, and letters from every possible angle, Jane's Fame is a treat for any Janeite. I need not balk when I say that it truly is the most engaging biography of anyone Ive ever read. Ever.” —AustenProse.com
“A must for Austen bibliophiles.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[A] sharp and scholarly analysis of Jane Austens life and the posthumous exploitation of her . . . . Harman herself delights with this comprehensive catalogue of Austen-mania.” —PW (starred review)
“Harman conjures a blooming portrait of the brilliant, modest nineteenth-century author who wrote her masterpieces on small, easily concealed sheafs of paper in the busy family sitting room.” —Elle
“Anyone who thinks that an author shouldn't have a rest from time to time should read Claire Harmans Janes Fame, about the evolution of Jane Austens career from about 1802, when, at the age of 27, she sold her first manuscript (of Northanger Abbey, never published in her lifetime) for £10, to now. The common misconception about Austen, according to Harman, is that she was reclusive and indifferent to her own concerns, including the reception of her books, but Harman makes a convincing case that she was neither as indifferent nor as obscure as we have been led to believe.” —Jane Smiley, Globe and Mail
“Wonderful… Not only scholarly, but indecently entertaining.... Her prose rings with good sense, affection and humour.” —Daily Mail
“Rich, incisive.” —Sunday Times
“An exhilarating look at the rise of Divine Janes worldwide influence. Harman charts its course with wit and style, as well as scholarly precision, making this a book that no Austen addict will want to resist.” —Literary Review
“Fascinating and sophisticated... a sparkling addition to the canon.” —Evening Standard
“Splendid… Harman is the first to treat this fascinating subject in an accessible, lively manner unshackled by academic jargon.” —Sunday Telegraph
“Deft, elegant… a happy blend of critical insight and narrative bounce.” —Kathryn Hughes, Guardian (UK)
“Pleasingly unstuffy.” —Times
“Beautifully researched, fascinating.” —The Scotsman
“A fascinating compendium of absolutely everything relating to Austen.... Extraordinary.” —Independent on Sunday
“Harman unpicks the cultural and sexual fantasies at the heart of Jane fandom with great skill.… The material [she] has deftly put together makes two things strikingly apparent: no reading of Jane, however seemingly wayward, is a misreading; and Austens major effect is to inspire good writing.” —Daily Telegraph
“Harmans narrative is brisk and incisive, and her emphases distinctive and provocative. She invites us to conceive of Austen both as a dedicated writer and also a ‘hard-nosed one…We never tire of reading or writing about Austen, and all the ever-ramifying epiphenomena she generates do deliver real pleasure. Janes Fame both chronicles and exemplifies this tirelessness, and readers will take pleasure in it accordingly.” —Times Literary Supplement
Janes Fame tells the fascinating story of Jane Austens renown, from the years of rejection the author faced during her lifetime to the global recognition and adoration she now enjoys. Almost two hundred years after her death, Austen remains a hot topic, constantly open to revival and reinterpretation and known to millions of people through film and television adaptations as much as through her books. In Janes Fame, Claire Harman gives us the complete biography—of both the author and her lasting cultural influence—making this essential reading for anyone interested in Austens life, works, and remarkably potent fame.
With warmth and humor, lifelong Janeite Deborah Yaffe opens the door on the quirky, thriving subculture of Jane Austen fandom.
About the Author
Claire Harman is the author of Sylvia Townsend Warner, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; Fanny Burney, which was short-listed for the Whitbread Prize, and the critically acclaimed Robert Louis Stevenson. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006, Harman teaches at the universities of Manchester and Oxford in England and Columbia University in New York City.